Stop heartburn and acid reflux without incisions - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Stop heartburn and acid reflux without incisions

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Do you ever race to your medicine cabinet after eating a meal? Millions of people do it every day for heartburn or indigestion. 

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is one of the most common problems. Luckily, it's more easily called GERD or acid reflux. Symptoms range from a burning sensation in the chest and between the shoulder blades, to nausea, regurgitation, burping, and bloating. A number of things can cause it, especially lifestyle, like smoking cigarettes. They tell us medication, diet, eating habits, and other medical conditions can also be to blame. It's always a good idea to go to your doctor with any of these symptoms, because it could be something more serious.     

If the problem is acid reflux, doctors say there's a treatment that cures it, without even making an incision. Dr. Jennifer Peterson is a dermatologist who prefers to keep her mind on her patients and lectures, not reflux!

"I was having a lot of pain in my chest after eating, especially with chocolate, soda, tomato sauce. My husband is Italian, so we have a lot of Italian food, having a hard time with that, also at night, couldn't sleep flat. I was having a lot of pain," states Dr. Peterson.       

Reflux causes food and drinks to leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus, causing heartburn and other painful symptoms. Dr. Peterson turned to one antacid after another, even prescription medications, but nothing seemed to help. In fact, it got a lot worse. 

"One episode was extremely severe, nothing would control it, so I went to the ER. They did a big work-up but found nothing wrong. I kept having the pain, kept having it and found Dr. Yu and he did an endoscopic procedure to look at heartburn or ulcer, that's when he found the hernia," says Dr. Peterson. Hiatal hernias are a common cause of reflux.    

Since Dr. Peterson didn't have time to take off work for an invasive procedure, she was relieved to find out about an incisions-free treatment called EsophyX TIF, performed by doctors at Texas Laparoscopic Consultants. She chose to seek help from Dr. Sherman Yu, who is the Medical Director of Bariatric Surgery at Park Plaza Hospital. 

"People think just taking a pill is the way to cure it, but recently there have been advances to do a procedure through the mouth where they don't even need incisions on their belly called EsophyX. It's a procedure where we can go inside through someone's esophagus, through endoscopy, and we can actually wrap back around the esophagus. You're recreating someone's valve, so that's going to prevent someone from getting reflux. Patients are put to sleep during the procedure, but no incisions, and recovery time is quick," says Dr. Yu.  He adds that some patients only have to take a few days off from work, although the patient FOX 26 News spoke with (Dr. Peterson) took an entire week off, just to make sure she was ready to go back and see patients.     

The real wake-up call about reflux is that doctors warn there can be long-term complications from antacids or acid suppressors. 

"Studies are showing that calcium absorption can be affected," explains Dr. Yu. He also says those over-the-counter medicines can cost you a lot more these days, because former prescription drugs are now sold in pharmacies over-the-counter, so no more insurance coverage for them.      

Dr. Peterson doesn't have to take medicine for the problem anymore, plus she can eat anything she wants. 

"The first piece of chocolate was a month out and I was savoring every bit of it," she laughingly states. She also no longer has to sleep on a "tower of pillows" to prevent the pain of acid reflux.     

Certainly it's always a good idea to try natural remedies. Here are some ideas: 

- Talk to you doctor about your prescription medications to find out if they could be the cause of your acid reflux.  
- Drink more water, since dehydration can aggravate the problem.  
- Try skim milk or low-fat yogurt to relieve the pain. (Milk with fat content can make it worse.)
- Avoid spicy foods, tomatoes, onions, chocolate, coffee, mints, sugar, and alcohol.  
- Don't wear tight clothing.  
- Elevate your head with pillows, so that your stomach acid doesn't drain into the esophagus.  
- Doctors also say that food allergies or sensitivities can cause reflux, so they suggest you consider getting tested for those foods, then you'll need to avoid them.  
- Doctors suggest obese people lose weight.
- Stop smoking.          

For more information about the procedure, visit

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